SA needs more kids in trades: Minister Ley

Media Release
  • Assistant Minister for Education

South Australia needs more school students taking up a career in trades and training if the nation is to tackle current skills shortages, Federal Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said today.

Ms Ley, whose portfolio includes vocational education and training in schools (VETiS), is in Adelaide today working with a roundtable of SA experts from industry, training, education and government.

She said just 0.8 per cent of 15-to-19 year olds in SA were enrolled in school-based apprenticeships – about one in every 100.

This is despite a range of skills shortages in the state, including gasfitters, plasterers, plumbers, bricklayers, concreters, electricians and carpenters.

However, Ms Ley said the problem was not unique to SA, with the national average just 1.5 per cent.

Ms Ley said the return of a national approach was needed and welcomed the recent agreement from the states and territories to work with the Federal Government to update the national VETiS framework for the first time since 2001.

“It’s no secret we need more tradies in this country. Yet the current national VETiS framework, which is meant to be delivering the next generation of skilled Labor, hasn’t been updated in over a decade,” she said.

“The fact that only 0.8 per cent of 15-to-19 year olds in South Australia are enrolled in a school-based apprenticeship shows Labor’s deliberate effort to put university on a pedestal over trades has put Australia’s economic success at risk.

“Our kids need the freedom and support at school to choose a career in the trades without feeling like they’re playing on the ‘B team’ for not deciding to go uni.

“Unfortunately Labor was so preoccupied with promises of flashy new buildings they failed to see the real focus needs to be on the quality of career advice, training and real-life work experience being offered to our kids.”

Today’s SA roundtable follows the national roundtable Ms Ley hosted in February.

“This is no different to building a house - you have to understand the lay of the land before you can build a solid framework,” she said.

Ms Ley thanked Federal Member for Hindmarsh Matt Williams MP for inviting her to host the roundtable in the Glenelg region of Adelaide today.

She said the core of today’s agenda was focussed around the need for stronger links between schools, employers and trainers, with the role of career guidance and how VETiS programs are delivered in schools also to be discussed.



Total number of 15-19 year olds

Number of school-based apprenticeships (15-19 year olds)

% of total number of 15 – 19 year olds

South Australia








Source: NCVER 2013, Australian vocational education and training statistics: VET in Schools 2012 data tables

For more information

Media Contact:
Non-media queries: 1300 566 046